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ARC Review: A Conspiracy of Alchemists by Liesel Schwarz

Submitted by on March 5, 2013 – 11:30 amNo Comment

Author: Liesel Schwarz
Title: A Conspiracy of Alchemists
Release: March 5, 2013
Series: The Chronicles of Light and Shadow #1
Reviewer: Noa
Source: Publisher/Edelweiss

Purchase: | Book Depository
LEAVE IT TO CHANCE. Eleanor “Elle” Chance, that is—the intrepid heroine of this edgy new series that transforms elements of urban fantasy, historical adventure, and paranormal romance into pure storytelling gold.

In a Golden Age where spark reactors power the airways, and creatures of Light and Shadow walk openly among us, a deadly game of Alchemists and Warlocks has begun.

When an unusual cargo drags airship-pilot Elle Chance into the affairs of the mysterious Mr. Marsh, she must confront her destiny and do everything in her power to stop the Alchemists from unleashing a magical apocalypse.

I’m a relative newbie when it comes to the steampunk genre, but thanks to some wonderful recommendations, I don’t think the “genre” has let me down yet! This can also be said of this fun new series by Liesel Schwarz; The Chronicles of Light and Shadow which begins with A Conspiracy of Alchemists.

Set in 1903, we are introduced to a world where light and shadow represent two opposite factions – science (light) and magic (shadow). Science has slowly been gaining on magic and now, there are places where magical beings including fairies, warlocks, nightwalkers and alchemists are losing their powers. Yes, every time someone says they don’t believe in fairies – a fairy drops dead.

Elle Chance is a woman with modern ideas in a world that still sees women as homemakers who are their fathers’/husbands’ responsibility. Growing up without her mother and with a (mad) scientist father who is trying to build the latest flying machine, means her passions lie beyond the home – she flies cargo airships… and sometimes her cargo is a bit shady.

When she picks up her latest job – bringing a certain Mr. Marsh back to England from Paris, she ends up getting much more than she bargained for and the reader gets a steampunk adventure with romance, mystery and a variety of mythological creatures all in one story.

See, Mr. Marsh is actually Lord Greychester, a high ranking warlock who may have a hidden agenda (duh) in addition to his quest to stop certain forces within the Shadow from getting their hands on a certain philosopher’s stone…

Yes, sparks fly when Elle and Mr. Marsh are together but they might not be heading for a HEA.

This one is a bit of a toughy to review. All in all, I enjoyed Schwarz’ storytelling and the world she built in the Chronicles of Light and Shadow but I felt that in some places there just wasn’t enough being said and in some – the story lagged a bit and the pace seemed off. I really wish there was a bit more world building in the story, and a little more insight into the characters’ thoughts – Schwarz writes the story from at least three perspectives yet I still feel like I missed some information in some scenes.

Some are calling this book a paranormal romance though truth be told, the book is a bit light on romance. It’s more of a “budding” romance than anything else. To me it felt like the author got lost somewhere along the way and while A Conspiracy of Alchemists had all the elements of a perfect steampunk, it felt like something was missing. Now this doesn’t mean it wasn’t a fun story, I just felt that it could have been more – more romance, more of the “conspiracy” and more world building.

The Chronicles of Light and Shadow is a series with a great deal of potential and hopefully Schwarz will delve deeper into the world she created in the second installment of the series. I can’t say I was blown away by A Conspiracy of Alchemists but I am looking forward to see where Schwarz will take us next.

Noa first fell in love with books when she discovered 100 acre wood and its inhabitants. To this day, the last pages of “The House at Pooh Corner” make her cry. In a good way. From“Calvin and Hobbes” to “The Iliad and the Odyssey” and lets not forget “Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes”. Biographies, mysteries, history books and romances all have a place on her bookshelves. Who needs furniture? This 29 year old singleton’s dream is to invent the zero-calorie chocolate. But until that day arrives, she tries to create sweet confections with whatever chocolate she can find. An MA in conflict studies (need a mediator?) means Noa loves a good debate, especially when she wins. If she were in charge, books would be free for everyone.
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